Cork inventor’s breakthrough for expectant mothers leads to 40 new jobs

27 Sep 2013

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Prof Louise Kenny, Metabolomics Diagnostics

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A research breakthrough by Cork native Prof Louise Kenny has lead to the creation of 40 new jobs. Kenny has won the Enterprise Ireland Life Sciences & Food Commercialisation Award for developing and commercialising through her firm Metabolomics Diagnostics Ltd the first predictive diagnosis for pre-eclampsia in early pregnancy.

Pre-eclampsia is a common condition affecting 5pc of first-time mothers. More than 500,000 infant deaths are attributed to pre-eclampsia each year and it is responsible for the occupancy of about 20pc of cots in neonatal intensive care units. If ‘at risk’ first-time mothers could be identified in early pregnancy, steps could be taken to prevent almost a third of cases.

Kenny received the award at the Enterprise Ireland Big Ideas Technology Showcase in Dublin this week.

She is also one of the directors of the INFANT Centre at Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) which recently for leveraged €13.6m in R&D funding.

“Prof Kenny has accomplished a huge amount in her career to date so it is very fitting that this award from Enterprise Ireland recognises her contribution to society and the economy,” the Minister of State for Research and Innovation Sean Sherlock, TD, said.

“Through the commercialisation of this technology, Louise and her team will help women and their babies, deliver cost savings to hospitals and create employment.”

Charles Garvey is now the CEO of the company, which is an Enterprise Ireland high-potential start-up with plans to create up to 40 new jobs.

“Louise’s technology represents a game-changing opportunity for perinatal care. I am looking forward to working with her to bring the test to the market to allow its full potential to be realised,” Garvey said.

Gearóid Mooney, manager of Research and Innovation at Enterprise Ireland, congratulated Kenny on her achievement and explained why she was selected for the award.

“Over the course of her career, Prof Kenny could see the problems caused by being unable to predict which women would develop pre-eclampsia in pregnancy.

“So she decided to do something about it and using public funding provided by Science Foundation Ireland and the Health Research Board, she and her research team developed the world’s first predictive diagnostic blood test for pre-eclampsia”.

Trailblazers

Tony O’Dowd received the Enterprise Ireland ICT Commercialisation award for licensing a piece of research generated at the Centre for Next Generation Localisation (CNGL) at Dublin City University, to form a start-up company called Xcelerator Machine Translations Ltd.

The company has 14 full-time employees and is growing a substantial client base with an innovative cloud-based machine translation service. The company’s premier product is now marketed as ‘KantanMT’.

Dr Mark Southern received the Enterprise Ireland Manufacturing, Engineering and Energy Commercialisation Award in recognition of his record in raising the core productivity of Irish manufacturers – thus enabling them to go further in their new product development, sales and exports.

Southern’s team at the University of Limerick helps companies by matching their technical issues and challenges to state-of-the-art solutions in manufacturing measurement, simulation, software and statistical know-how.

Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s year-long campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com